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Guest Post: Dragon
By Karin Rita Gastreich
According to the traditions of the
Mages and Magas of Moisehén, Dragon is not a biological or physical creature.
She is a spiritual entity who has appeared in her true form -- as a winged
serpent -- only a handful of times in history.
Sent by the Gods, Dragon first appeared to the legendary figures Aithne and
Caradoc, and taught them the ways of High Magic. The story of Aithne and
Caradoc, and their encounter with Dragon, is told in one of the early chapters
of my novel Eolyn. (There is an audio
recording of this scene available on my blog, if you’d like to listen sometime!)
Many generations after appearing to Aithne
and Caradoc, Dragon returned to teach Caedmon how to use magic in warfare,
making Caedmon the first Mage Warrior.
This was a time of great crisis, as the People of Thunder were annihilating
all practitioners of magic. Caedmon
formed an alliance with the warrior chief Vortingen, and together they defeated
the People of Thunder. As a result, the
winged serpent appeared once more to grant Vortingen the crown of Moisehén,
charging him and all his descendants with protecting the followers of Aithne
Dragon, also called Messenger, can shape shift at will, taking on the
appearance of any living creature that inhabits the earth. Using this ability,
Dragon has appeared to every Initiate of High Magic since the time of Aithne
and Caradoc. When Eolyn makes her
pilgrimage into the forest to petition for a staff of High Magic, her tutor
Ghemena advises her to be prepared for all possibilities:
The Initiate must open her mind to the
greatness of all beings, lest she fail to hear Messenger’s voice in the sinuous
movement of a millipede’s legs or in the fearsome roar of an angry bear.
Dragon reveals to the Initiate what elements are to be incorporated in his or
her staff. Under the traditions of the Old Orders, it was widely taught that
Dragon appeared as a male to Mage Initiates and as a female to Maga Initiates,
although there were of course exceptions to this rule.
If Dragon does not appear during the
pilgrimage of the Initiate, it is understood that the petition has been denied;
that the Gods for whatever reason have judged the petitioner unworthy or
unready to practice High Magic.
Dragon is often referred to in Moisehén as the Silver Serpent. Her scales are
iridescent and highly reflective, and can take on a variety of colors.
Nonetheless, artwork in Moisehén portrays Dragon only in silver. The sigil of
the House of Vortingen, for example, is a silver dragon against a purple night.
Mage Corey, of the Clan of East Selen, wears a clasp on his cloak in the form
of a silver Dragon. Early in the novel, Akmael gives Eolyn a silver bracelet
with images of the many forms in which Dragon has been known to appear:
On the etched surface of winding silver Eolyn recognized multiple forms of
Dragon: winged serpent, snake, lion, butterfly, river otter, fish and many
others. Each figure blended into the next, creating a single creature as
fantastic as imagination itself.
jewel is a parting gift, but it will bind them forever in ways neither one
Karin Rita Gastreich
Publisher: Hadley Rille Books
Count: approximately 118,000
a land ravaged by civil war, the Mage King Kedehen initiates a brutal purge of
his wrath, Eolyn, daughter of the last of the Magas and sole heiress to their
forbidden tradition, seeks refuge in the South Woods. There she meets the mysterious boy Akmael,
and forms a friendship that thrives on shared magic. Destiny leads them down a tortuous path of love,
betrayal and war, until one day the Maga Eolyn takes up arms against the new
Eolyn slay the man she loves in order to free herself and her people?
answer lies in the extraordinary magic she commands, and in the hidden power of
a Maga’s heart.
told deceptions and battle scenes. . . with a romantic thread." – Publishers Weekly
set the jewel on a polished oak table, next to the ceremonial mask he had
confiscated from Eolyn when they had brought her to him as a prisoner. The
silver web sparkled under the flickering light of the torches, and the folds of
her mask seemed to waver with the shadows. After a careful search, Akmael found
what he sought: a coppery strand of her hair, glowing with her magic and still
bearing traces of her exquisite aroma. With a quiet invocation to Dragon, he
wove the hair into the heirloom of his mother, snaking it tightly through the
intricate mesh. When he finished a sudden white glow flashed through the
medallion, fusing the strand of hair to the web and rendering it
indistinguishable from the other threads. Satisfied, Akmael stood and lifted
the circle by its silver chain. He drew a breath and began a new incantation,
one he had worked meticulously by integrating the lullaby of his mother with a
spell designed to separate the seam of a Maga’s ward.
he repeated the verse, the stone walls melted around him and soft loam rose to
his feet. The web had taken him to a forest, ancient in aspect though
illuminated by energies very different from the South Woods. The pale light of
the new moon filtered through the canopy. A breeze shifted restless against the
trees. He thought he could feel Eolyn’s essence on the wind, but she was
nowhere to be seen. Disappointed though not deterred, Akmael lifted the
medallion to try again. Just as he spun the web to begin his invocation, a soft
rustle in the underbrush detained him. Eolyn appeared a few paces away in the
shape of Wolf, her true identity betrayed by the full spectrum of her
caught his breath and held very still. The Gods must have favored him, for she
did not at first detect his scent. Stepping into the clearing, she searched the
leaf litter with her snout, her awareness focused on some favored smell
emanating from the damp earth. Her coarse gray fur blended into the shadows.
The faint moonlight glinted against her black eyes. She continued oblivious to
him, until in a sudden shift of attention she paused and looked up. She sniffed
at the air, her muscles tensed. Her ears turned in Akmael’s direction. She
growled then bolted into the forest.
upon the shape of Wolf, Akmael charged after her.
a girl, Eolyn had been a swift runner. As a wolf, she seemed impossible to
catch. She hurtled through the bushes, managing with nimble turns a rough
terrain unknown to Akmael. Branches caught at his fur and scratched his snout.
Tangled roots threatened to trip his paws. More than once she gained enough
distance to lose sight of her, yet Akmael kept tight upon her scent and did not
give up. His muscles began to burn. His tongue hung limp from his jowls. He
panted hot clouds into the air as he pushed his limbs to move faster and
warning the undergrowth disappeared. Akmael skidded into a small clearing. The
she-wolf paced a confused circle in front of him, her whimpers soft and high
pitched. A steep wall of rock had cut her flight short. Upon sensing Akmael,
she swung around to confront him and bared her fangs in a vicious snarl. They
stalked each other, heads low and tails ominously still, quiet growls and sharp
barks building in a tense duet. Eolyn sprang first, striking his shoulders and
digging her claws deep into his fur as her teeth sought his neck. Akmael
twisted his throat out of her reach, forcing his snout underneath her muzzle,
leaving her snapping at his ears instead. Again he ducked his head, barely
avoiding the tearing hold of her canines. He had never seen Eolyn so intent on
drawing blood. Wedging his paws up through her hold, he pushed against her
muzzle and spread his claws over her face. With a sharp yelp, Eolyn stumbled
back, breaking their grapple. Recovering her balance, she lunged low, fangs
flashing in the moonlight. Just as her jaws snapped shut, Akmael reared up on
his hind legs, leaving nothing for her to take hold of. Coming down upon her
back, he caught the nape of her neck with his razor sharp teeth and forced her
decisively to the ground.
went very still, though her muscles remained tense. After several moments she
tried to shift her position, scooting a few inches along the ground. He
tightened his grip with a low growl, sending a clear signal that the strength
of his muzzle could break her neck. Again she paused. He felt her pulse against
his jowls, rapid and strong. The intensity of their conflict had left her fur
warm and damp at the roots. Her rich musk rose about him in waves, saturating
his senses to the point of dizziness. His loins tightened with need. Every
instinct of Wolf was urging him to claim her right then and there. Was such a
thing possible, he wondered. Did the Mages and Magas of old partake in the
pleasure of the Gods even when they shape shifted?
muzzle sank between her paws. Her ears twitched and she whimpered quietly. Her
pulse slowed. The tension drained out of her haunches and into the midnight
earth. Interpreting this as a sign of submission, Akmael loosened his hold and
an instant, Eolyn rose to her feet, resumed her human form and kicked him full
in the stomach. The force of her strike surprised Akmael. He hit the ground
with a yelp, and the shape of Wolf deserted him. His hand went instinctively to
where the blow burned against his side.
have lost nothing of your strength and skill,” he said, “but don’t you think
that move was a little unfair?”
RITA GASTREICH was born near Kansas City, Missouri. After living and working
for ten years as a tropical ecologist in Costa Rica, she recently returned to
her home town and is now a Professor of Biology at Avila University. Her past
times include camping, hiking, music and flamenco dance. Karin's fantasy novel EOLYN was released by
Hadley Rille Books in May, 2011.
novel, HIGH MAGA, is scheduled for release in 2013. Karin’s short stories have
appeared in Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, 69 Flavors of Paranoia,
and A Visitor to Sandahl. She is a
recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.
Like a spider creates a web, Karin Rita Gastreich, builds a complex world in her high fantasy novel, Eolyn. With a likable heroine and hero, well developed secondary characters and good dialogue, I was transported to a world full of magic I never wanted to leave. Fully engaging my emotions, Ms. Gastreich created a reading experience I won't forget any time soon.
As this tale begins, Eolyn and her older brother are being raised by their parents in a small rural community. Loving her "nature" hikes through the woods with her mother, Eolyn is slowly being taught the basics of natural magic. It's only when her family is destroyed that Eolyn learns the danger of learning magic, and the dangers of being a female in possession of any knowledge. Seeking refuge in the woods, Eolyn is taken in by an older Maga, whose presence and teachings will forever change her life.
Born to a King, who is both a warrior and a Mage, and his Maga princess, Prince Akmael is expected to follow in his father's footsteps. With the kingdom being ruled by strength and the magic of the Mages, Akmael is not quite what his chief tutor is expecting; he's independent, bright and magically gifted. He's also lonely and good at keeping secrets.
When fate brings Eolyn and Akmael together as children, neither one knows how important their bond will become or that they'll end up on opposite sides of a future battle. Even as their friendship grows and blossoms into early love, Akmael fears for Eolyn's safety - if his father's soldiers and mages find her practicing magic, she could be found guilty of violating the king's law and being burned at the stake. Ms. Gastreich does a wonderful job providing us with the experiences they have together in the woods, and then the experiences they each have individually when they begin to go separate directions. As Akmael is forced to take on more responsibilities in the Kingdom and is given further instructions by the mages, Eolyn begins her own journey to discover her destiny and begins to try to bring the old magical ways back. Even if she has to move slowly and secretly at first.
As the political and magical machinations of others around them continue to escalate, Eolyn and her new found friends become the opposition. They see no reason for women not to be trained to be whatever they want to be and it soon becomes clear the war between the mages and magas is far from over. As Akmael is forced to face the growing treachery among the mages - he'll have to make a choice too.
Will Eolyn and Akmael's friendship and early love lead to their salvation or their destruction? And what will the future hold for them both? You'll have to read Eolyn to find out, I enjoyed this and can't wait to read the next book, High Maga, due out in 2012. I do want to caution romance readers that while there is some romance in this book - this is not a romantic fantasy - most of the focus of this story is on the destiny and future of the world the two primary characters live in.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Crowns
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